Earl Wiggins-Master of the Craft

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deuce4

Big Wall climber
the Southwest
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 14, 2007 - 10:30am PT
Jello's recent story reminded me of the time I had the opportunity to work with Earl on a rigging job in Snow Canyon. Besides being an inspirational character in a myriad of ways, his rigging skills were incredible.

Pics:

Not only was Earl in charge of all the rigging for this production, but he also did a terrifying stunt where he rode off the cliff on a bike with a hidden harness.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Dec 14, 2007 - 11:03am PT
Wow. Nice shots. I'd never even seen a picture of Earl. Recognize Ron, of course. What movie was this?
deuce4

Big Wall climber
the Southwest
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 14, 2007 - 11:32am PT
It was some "Rescue 911" type show, that had macho rescue dudes (and of course the token beauty female) who performed daring rescues with extrodinarily corny dialog. I don't think it actually made thorugh a full season.

Mike Hoover was in charge of production.

Sadly, don't have any good shots of Earl himself.
To watch him in action was a treat. Incredible energy.
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Dec 14, 2007 - 12:04pm PT
First met Earl in the late 70's in Colorado Springs...Really good guy and an amazing climber. Really sad about Earl and his depression.

Greg...sorry about your dad. Hope all is well.
WanderlustMD

Trad climber
Lanham MD
Dec 14, 2007 - 01:53pm PT
Funny this should pop up now. I've been looking through some old climbing back issues and there was a column in one where the author is working on a rigging job with Wiggins. He sees a locker full of brand spankin' new cams, ropes, etc. Wiggins mentions that all gear has to be new due to insurance.

Wiggins sees him staring at the booty, slams the locker shut and goes "Remember that scene in Cliffhanger where the chicks harness blows appart and she falls a million feet? I made that happen, and I can do it again."

hahaha

Cool shots John, thanks!
WBraun

climber
Dec 14, 2007 - 02:03pm PT
Yeah hahaha Wanderlust that was Earl he cracks some good ones.

SteveW

Trad climber
Denver, CO
Dec 14, 2007 - 03:02pm PT
Hey Deuce4
Was the guy with the beard Jim Nigro?
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Dec 14, 2007 - 03:17pm PT
I see Doug Snively, also, maybe, Kieth Guy in those photos.

I once made a custom rigging harness for Earl; did all the fitting via the phone (sure hope it didn't explode!).

Besides being mechanically adept, he was a tuff dude. 'Never really got to know him; we met when he and Katy Cassidy were working on Canyon Country Climbs, during the late 80's out in Indian Creek.

It would be cool to see more about him on this forum.
deuce4

Big Wall climber
the Southwest
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 14, 2007 - 03:52pm PT
I think it's Bego, Kauk, Snively, and Kieth(ned flange)Guy in the pics
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Dec 14, 2007 - 03:55pm PT
Earl...solo of Outer Limits at the age of sixteen and his solo ascent of Scenic Cruise in 3 1/2 hours are milestones in free climbing history.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 14, 2007 - 04:24pm PT
Earl was a super nice guy. I can't figure out his final decision.

But he could have picked a better route for the cover of CCC (just kidding).


Berg heil Earl, catcha on the down side.
captain chaos

climber
Dec 14, 2007 - 05:52pm PT
Good to see Earl pop up here, thanks Deuce... Earl, Ned Gillette, Peter Patterson and I went to Aconcagua in 84 to ski the north side and then climb the south side. It was quite a trip, Earl and I found our way around the Mendoza night life and had some wild times together, some of my best memories of him were on that trip. Earl was a great person and extremely talented, and I've always been saddened by his departure. Anyway, here's to you Earl, may you be having a good time out there in the perimeter.
Thomas

Trad climber
The Tilted World
Dec 14, 2007 - 07:48pm PT
I hope that this question is not out of line or overly sensitive, but can anyone shed light on why Earl took his own life? I am just having a hard time making it make sense. Sometimes it just goes like that.

Thanks for this post--a master indeed!

WBraun

climber
Dec 14, 2007 - 07:53pm PT
Thomas

It's long story and doesn't really need to be aired out here.

Keep the faith man ......
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Dec 14, 2007 - 08:05pm PT
Thomas...I think sometimes people can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Earl was a very kind human being. That's how I remember him.
Chippychopperone

Social climber
SLC, UT
Dec 14, 2007 - 08:14pm PT
I remember finding one of those mountainbikes high up the first ascent of a route in Snow Canyon. One of the weirdest things is to discover a crunched mountain bike 5 pitches up on a first ascent. I believe it was a GT. I also found a rolled up rug, jammed in a crack on Babes in Tailand.


TDA
nick d

Trad climber
nm
Dec 14, 2007 - 08:15pm PT
Thanks for posting that Duece, it was very interesting seeing the setups!

I never knew Earl, but one of my friends that climbed a lot with him told me that he was always motivated to go up. No matter what the conditions, Earl wasn't backing off. My friend said he was a great partner in any adventure.

Thanks again for the photos!
scuffy b

climber
Stump with a backrest
Dec 14, 2007 - 08:17pm PT
Well put, Bob.
What compounds the problem is that when you can't see that light,
you don't feel you can reach out to your friends for help.
deuce4

Big Wall climber
the Southwest
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 14, 2007 - 10:03pm PT
Chippy-

Funny you found that bike. I went to look for it once, but couldn't find it. Did see tons of new route potential, though. I think I was way off to the right of where the bike was, we did a couple 5.9ish grovelling pitches to a big ledge, the next sections looked pretty hard, but it was obvious the bike wasn't anywhere near where we were. Rapped off, thinking one day I'd be establishing some cool new routes in that area, but never went back.

Has much else been done in that area now? Not much was put up at the time.
wack-N-dangle

Gym climber
the ground up
Dec 14, 2007 - 11:26pm PT
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Dec 14, 2007 - 11:44pm PT
I meet Earl in Moab in the Early 80's....when there were only a handful of desert sandstone climbers....I was climbing with Cyndie Bransford, Dave Evans, and Margie Floyd....he was really psyched to meet other desert climbers, and already knew us by name and what we had climbed in the SW.....it was cool to meet him.....we were bush league compared to the rad stuff Earl had done.....it was way cool to meet him, and we crossed paths a few more times over the years.



One of Piton Ron's many F A's
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 14, 2007 - 11:59pm PT
Looks vaguely familiar,... (30th anniversary in February).


Hard to see that the big rock to the left is actually two rocks with the closer one being the Bulbous Head, another Kyle Copeland route.
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Dec 15, 2007 - 05:05am PT
Kyle Copeland



I think this is what Ron is talking about......
Chippychopperone

Social climber
SLC, UT
Dec 15, 2007 - 11:12am PT
Hey Duece,

We climbed up the smack middle of the cliff via a 7 0r 8 pitch (I can't remember the exact amount of pitches) with drill with us. The route is called the Falcon and is 5.9 R. Pretty fun and adventurous. The bike is still there. I was going to come back with tools and get the hardware off of it, be never did. Another route to the left named Cozmos was climbed at 6 pitches with no bolts. We found that huge chunks of tie-off webbing can be used to hitch multiple patinas and provide great protection. Other than those new routes, there wasn't anything going up at the time. Todd Goss drilled a huge all bolt route around the corner. It was a long fixed project at the time and I never heard the outcome. There was a ban on new bolts in the late 90's, thus the reason we didn't bring a drill.
There still is a ton of great moderate potential waiting for the right person with the right permit from the Snow Canyon Climbing Council.

TDA
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 15, 2007 - 12:17pm PT
Ha!!

I got my permit right here.




Nice shots Todd. The clouds add a lot. I didn't know anybody ever repeated the Bulbous Head (speaking of permits). Kyle was pissed off I didn't have a hand drill, but drilling one handed with the Bosch allowed me to space out the bolts which probably translated to two fewer holes/bolts.

Kyle turns 50 on May 7 (actually I thought it was last year, but his mom set me straight) I hope he lives to see it, but then again his quality of life right now is very sad.
When it came to the three of us, I found the lines, Charlie was the consistant performer, but Kyle had flashes of brilliance where he could outclimb me and Charlie put together.

permits

yeah, times change for sure.
Moof

Big Wall climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Dec 15, 2007 - 12:21pm PT
Hey, that looks like Kenai Air helicopter!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 24, 2007 - 08:22pm PT
I first met Earl in Tucson back in the eighties while he and Katy Cassidy were winter climbing in the Cochise Stronghold. After some small talk he sheepishly wondered aloud whether or not he and Katy were climbing up to the local standard of boldness while establishing some new routes. After a good long laugh, I informed him that as the local standard bearer he had nothing to worry about.
Katy and Earl wrote an excellent book on desert climbing history called Canyon Country Climbs. It is chock full of superb photos and stories and should adorn every soft rock lover's bookshelf. Check it out.


A back and forth on Ancient Art including a shot of Earl himself.


sdouce

Trad climber
colorado springs, co
Jan 13, 2008 - 10:50pm PT
Thanks for posting those pictures. Earl was my Step-Dad, and those pics remind me of when he had set up a wenched chair than ran through the woods up on Gold Camp Road. He took me out of Elementary school to be his test rider. I, of coarse, loved the job.
In response to the questions regarding his death, Earl suffered from being bipolar for nearly all of his life. It played a role in his bold climbing, and it obviously played a role in his suicide.
hobo_dan

Social climber
Minnesota
May 30, 2008 - 10:07pm PT
I was in Moab this Spring and we were drinking beer at The Cirque of the Climbables-very steep tall cliffs I was wondering if anyone does it anymore? Silence more silence and then my friend says "Earl Wiggins"
Says it all

Murf
TrundleBum

Trad climber
Las Vegas
May 31, 2008 - 05:32pm PT


"The Cruise" with J.Dunn.
Mythical achievement in it's day.
Chief

climber
Apr 4, 2010 - 12:51am PT
Bump for JM's thread.
Wish I'd found it and put his letter here instead of a new post.
Nice to see photos of Earl, Bego, The Sniveler, Kauk and JM himself.

PB
Chippychopperone

Social climber
SLC, UT
Apr 4, 2010 - 11:25am PT
I was leading a new route in Snow Canyon in the late ninetees when I climbed up to a mangled bike hundreds of feet off deck. We were really confused how this bike got there. I heard stories about some movie/t.v. work being done here before. This explains it all. I also found a house rug rolled up and stuffed in a crack about 500' off deck in a route next to this. I figured this buttress in Snow Canyon, the largest in the area, is home to wierd junk high off the ground.

-TDA
hobo_dan

Social climber
Minnesota
Apr 18, 2013 - 05:22pm PT
bump
crunch

Social climber
CO
Apr 18, 2013 - 05:47pm PT
Shortly before Earl died, he left a load of slides with Climbing. Years later, Matt Samet asked me if I could do something about these. I talked to Art and, on his suggestion, delivered them to Earl's widow, Dawn.

No idea who took this, or when or where:

jabbas

Trad climber
New River, AZ
Apr 18, 2013 - 08:04pm PT
Man - anytime we were wimpering and crying about ballbearing foot smears or manky pins in wobbly holes we would say " Earl help me " and the immediate fear would sorta be vanquished, sorta !! The scaredyest I ever been is on Sedona sandstone face. One brave Amigo on the soft Earl was.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
WA, & NC & Idaho
Apr 18, 2013 - 08:20pm PT
I have always been VERY inspired by Earl,

I heard he was hit by lightening not too long before he passed?
They have been publishing some research about profound depression and personality changes after lightening strikes.

Thanks for a great thread y'all!!!!
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Apr 18, 2013 - 08:27pm PT
Classic thread and bad ass DUDE bump!
TrundleBum

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Apr 18, 2013 - 08:30pm PT
Those first few shots... #'s 4,5 and 6

They look like they could be at the lip of the roof of a route in Red Rock known today as Sandstone Over cast ?

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/sandstone-overcast/105732764

(Which is immediately left/west of the fourth pitch of Johnny Vegas in Oak Creek on Solar Slab, lower wall)
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Jun 5, 2013 - 05:13pm PT
Bump!
steve shea

climber
Jun 5, 2013 - 06:00pm PT
I climbed with Earl when he lived in Jackson. Really good guy and talented climber. Probably most saw him as a great rock climber. He was a very good alpinist as well. We once did the Black Ice Couloir in January in under five hrs round trip saddle to saddle. Earl was very fast and solid on mixed and ice. When we descended from the lower saddle that day we saw Harry Frishman on his way up to the Middle Teton. Sadly Harry died the next day in a fall on the NW Couloir on Middle. Earl had a hard time with that. We were the last to see him.
chill

climber
between the flat part and the blue wobbly thing
Jun 5, 2013 - 06:32pm PT
I knew him somewhat in Colorado Springs and climbed with him a few times in the Royal Gorge and Pikes Peak. Really nice guy. If you just met him and talked to him you'd have no idea about all the hardman stories. He wasn't the sort of person to put that out there to impress people.
Someone mentioned that he was hit by lightning. I think that was on the Diamond, while climbing with his first wife, Cheryl. It blew him out of his aiders and knocked him unconscious.
Then there was the fall on an ice climb in Little Cottonwood that broke both legs...
and the 80 footer on the Cruise while climbing with his brother Art. He finished the top half of the route with a broken forearm.
A short but extraordinary life.
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Jun 5, 2013 - 10:46pm PT
This is high grade BBST . . . Earl was an audacious soloist, EB's and all, pound for pound one of the greatest of his time.
Fluoride

Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA
Jun 5, 2013 - 11:38pm PT
I just watched "Luxury Liner" - the documentary on the FA of Supercrack.

Am in awe of Wiggins, Webster and the like. Heard all the stories but first time I'd seen it on video. Leading SC with hexes. And the second pitch by Webster to the rim. Wonderful.

RIP Earl.
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Jun 5, 2013 - 11:55pm PT
Flouride . . . the Black Canyon beckons.
Messages 1 - 44 of total 44 in this topic
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